Ah, summer. Visits to the pool or the ocean or lake shore. Hikes in the woods. Picnics in the park.
Yes, summer is wonderful. The flying and crawling pests that come with it? Not so much.
In fact, some of these pests can be downright dangerous. Mosquitoes and ticks, for example, can transmit serious disease.
Read below for some tips on how to stay safe from summer’s most dangerous pests.
Mosquitoes probably are the most dangerous of summer’s pests. Just a “simple” mosquito bite can make for an itchy and scratchy day.
Yet their real threat is that they can transmit several diseases, including the very serious West Nile virus, yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis, and dengue.
While these diseases are rare here in the U.S., West Nile virus (WNV) is becoming more common and is transmitted to humans via mosquito bites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about one in five of those who are infected with the virus will develop a fever with other symptoms, such as headaches, body aches, tiredness, possibly skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. There are no vaccines to prevent infection and there are no medicines to treat infection. The good news is that less than 1 percent of those infected will develop a sometimes fatal neurologic illness.
To protect yourself, wear protective clothing and insect repellant that contains DEET or picaridin and spray that repellant on ALL exposed skin. Limit skin exposure by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants if you’re out in the forest or woods. Aim to not be outdoors at dawn and dusk (mosquitoes are most active at these times). Eliminate standing water in buckets, flower pots, ponds, birdbaths, puddles, etc. around your home. Repair or replace any torn window screens/doors.
Ticks come next on the most-dangerous list. Populations are increasing and the blacklegged deer tick – found in the northeastern part of the U.S. from Maine on down to Virginia – can transmit Lyme disease to humans and to pets.
The CDC states that symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headaches, and the well-known skin rash that looks like a bull’s eye (erythema migrans). If left untreated, Lyme disease also can put a whammy on your heart and nervous system and can affect joints.
Prevention tips are somewhat similar to protecting yourself from West Nile virus:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially when hiking/walking in wooded areas or tall grasses.
• Tuck pants into socks, helping to prevent ticks from landing on your legs (yes it looks nerdy, but Lyme disease is not to be toyed with).
• Wear light colored clothing (makes it easier to spot ticks).
• Use a bug spray that has at least 20 percent DEET.
• When hiking on trails, stay in the center and away from vegetation.
• Inspect yourself and family members carefully after being outdoors. Check scalp, between fingers and toes, behind knees and ears, under arms, and in the groin area.
• Help prevent ticks in your yard by keeping grass low and removing weeds, piles of wood and other debris.